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Extra £12m to fund superfast broadband

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superfast broadbandAN EXTRA £12million of government money for superfast broadband will help business start-ups and job creation in some of Wales’s hardest to reach rural areas, Culture Secretary, Maria Miller, announced on Tuesday.

The nationwide rollout is a key part of the Government’s long-term economic plan to secure Britain’s future by providing better access to superfast broadband, and in allocating funding the Government has worked to ensure as many families and businesses as possible benefit.

More than 100,000 Welsh homes and businesses can now get access to superfast speeds as a result of the UK Government’s roll-out of superfast broadband.

The UK Government has already invested £57m pounds in the Superfast Cymru project which is on track to deliver superfast broadband to 96% of homes and businesses in Wales by spring 2016.

Local projects in Wales will now receive an additional £12m of funding, with the hardest to reach locations amongst those who stand to benefit most.

The current rural programme will deliver returns of £20 for every £1 invested, representing tremendous value for money. As well as improvements in the productivity of broadband- firms, faster broadband will create an additional 56,000 jobs in the UK by 2024, and the work involved in the current roll out is expected to provide a £1.5b boost to local economies, with approximately 35,000 job-years created or safeguarded over the period to 2016. By 2024, the Government’s current investments in faster broadband will be boosting rural economies by £275m every month or around £9m every day.

Over 10,000 homes and businesses UK wide are now gaining access each week, with this figure expected to reach 40,000 per week by summer this year. There are strong economic growth and efficiency reasons why local authorities should contribute towards to the cost of rolling out superfast broadband, and the additional funding will be awarded on a match funding basis.

Superfast broadband allows families to use multiple devices simultaneously, so while parents are streaming a movie or their favourite television programme, the kids can be uploading photos and videos to social media sites whilst downloading the latest track from their favourite artist. Businesses also stand to benefit hugely from the roll out, which will facilitate video conferencing, boost processing power and increasing productivity.

Culture Secretary Maria Miller said: “Superfast Broadband will benefit everyone in Wales – whether they need it for work, to do homework or simply to download music or films. Thousands of homes and businesses now have access and it is helping people with their everyday tasks. We want to make sure that Britain is one of the best countries in the world for broadband, and the extra money we are investing will help ensure communities around the UK are not left behind in the digital slow lane”.

Secretary of State for Wales, David Jones said: “This announcement is a clear indication of the commitment of the UK Government to the Superfast Broadband project across Wales and the United Kingdom as a whole. The Culture Secretary and I have had regular discussions on this issue, and I am pleased that Wales will be receiving an additional £12million. Over 100,000 premises in Wales have already benefited from superfast broadband rollout thanks to the £57million already invested by the UK Government, and I am delighted that this further investment will see that number grow substantially”.

Wales Office Minister with portfolio responsibility for broadband, Stephen Crabb said: “The Superfast Broadband project is a prime example of how UK Government investment can be combined with other funding to deliver for the people of Wales. By having access to superfast broadband, businesses can expand, develop new markets and create the jobs we need. From our rural heartlands to our urban city centres, this Government is ensuring the people of Wales have a broadband network fit for the digital age”.

There are strong economic growth and efficiency reasons why local authorities should contribute towards to the cost of rolling out superfast broadband, and the additional £12m will be awarded on a match funding basis. The current rural programme will deliver returns of £20 for every £1 invested, representing tremendous value for money.

The fund will open on March 17 2014 and we are asking local authorities to offer support to these pilot projects.

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Health volunteers thanked for incredible support

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THERE’S no more fitting time than National Volunteering Week to say thank you to all of the volunteers within Hywel Dda University Health Board, management have said in a press release.

‘Volunteering for Health’ is the Hywel Dda UHB’s volunteer service and has covered the three counties of Ceredigion, Carmarthenshire and Pembrokeshire for the past 11 years.

During this period, volunteers have carried out 376,000 hours of volunteering and in 2019 carried out 56,000 hours.

At the start of the year prior to COVID, 400 registered volunteers were providing a range of services to support patients and improve their experience whilst in hospitals, these include; library trolley service, shop trolley service, pharmacy runners, meet and greet, patient befrienders, gardeners and many other roles.

Lisa Gostling, Director of Workforce and OD said: “Volunteers are an integral part of our service and it’s hard to think that only seven months ago we celebrated the 10th anniversary of volunteering within Hywel Dda together at Bronwydd Hall.

“It’s important at this moment in time to recognise that some of our long standing volunteers can’t be with us and we look forward to welcoming you back to the organisation soon.

“And also to recognise those volunteers who have changed what they do to support our patients during these particularly difficult times.

“So I want to just say thank you. Thank you for your commitment, your generosity and your kindness. I look forward to seeing you all soon. Take care and stay safe.”

David Fretwell. Volunteering for Health Manager, added his thanks for the overwhelming response from volunteers old and new to an unprecedented situation: “This year has been unprecedented for the volunteer service with the onset of the COVID pandemic and has dramatically affected the way we have involved volunteers.

“We had an amazing response from the community wishing to help us through volunteering with over 600 offers of support.

“To help manage the numbers of people offering to help we set up a ‘Volunteer Pool’ and are extremely mindful where we can place volunteers for their safety.

“We have now deployed volunteers to support the health board’s transport department as drivers; we also have gardeners, virtual volunteers and drivers delivering food parcels from food banks to some of our most vulnerable patients in the community.

“We appreciate the fantastic support you have provided prior to COVID and through the pandemic. Thank you for your incredible support.”

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Inflatable kayak group rescued by the Coastguard

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A GROUP of people in an inflatable kayak had to be rescued by the Coastguard on Saturday (May 30) evening.

HM Coastguard Dale said they were “very lucky people”.

They had been exploring to the north of Skomer Island when they got caught in the tidal race of Jack Sound and ended up off Gateholm.

A passing Dale sailing vessel helped them to the Little and Broad Haven Lifeboat team before they were transferred to Angle RNLI to navigate Jack Sound.

The casualties were received by HM Coastguard Dale at Martin’s Haven and given safety advice.

The group had no lifejackets on and were not wearing wetsuits, despite the cold water.

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Hart defends a tweet police boss says is incorrect

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WELSH Secretary Simon Hart has defended a tweet accused of being incorrect by a chief constable.

The MP for South Pembrokeshire and West Carmarthenshire told The Herald that he had simply been quoting Dyfed-Powys Police Chief Constable Mark Collins when he said people in Wales were allowed to travel up to 15 miles to exercise.

Mr Collins later said people should not drive to take exercise.

Hart told MPs he was “quite surprised” to hear Mr Collins’ response.

Welsh Government guidelines on lockdown restrictions say “exercise should be undertaken locally – as close as possible to the home”.

They continue: “In general this should not involve people driving to a location away from home for this purpose.”

Last Friday Mr Hart tweeted: “Fascinating to hear from Wales’ four police chiefs today, and the commissioners too, especially on what’s permissible under lockdown.

“Consensus was that travelling 10-15 miles from home to fish, play golf, surf or exercise is fine – subject to all other distancing requirements”.

However responding to questions from MPs on Thursday, Mr Hart said “the reference to 10 to 15 miles to travel to play golf or fish was actually Chief Constable Mark Collins’ own words – not mine – and not disputed by anybody on that call”.

He told the Welsh Affairs Select Committee that he was “quite surprised” to then hear that the comment he tweeted was “interpreted as being incorrect”.

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